"Ghosting emotions": An open door for transiting intimacy in contemporary Spain



emotions, love, ghosting, neoliberal emotional regime, intimacy


Ghosting has mostly been associated with app-dating. However, our research addresses ghosting as a broader field of face-to-face avoidance practices. The article highlights the role of avoidance in emotional practices to maintain ongoing relationships. In the case of contemporary Spain, the structural uncertainty that permeates intimate relationships—related to neoliberalism’s emphasis on individualism in the shaping of subjectivities—is reinforced by the tension in the coexistence of romantic and confluent models of love, which translates into a lack of scripts when it comes to dealing with intimacy. Drawing on the results of an ethnographic research project based on interviews with adults in the city of Madrid, we examine the ways in which social actors adapt their behavior to the context through what we have called ghosting emotions. This analytical tool accounts for those individual strategies, which, as a result of an exercise of emotional reflexivity, limit relationality by avoiding certain social practices in the shaping of intimacy. Thus, this article shows the concrete processes through which actors develop patterns shaping structural dimensions in contemporary intimacies when facing uncertainties. To safeguard individuality within relationships, these practices function as a means of enhancing a sense of control by leaving an open door.